12 October, 2010

"it's social model vs. medical model NOT mild vs. severe disability" transcript

Hey, okay, so I just wanted to say something because I keep reading a lot of flamewars, which is probably a stupid thing for me to do 'cause it just makes me annoyed, but I just ended up feeling like if someone just came out and said this then people wouldn't be so annoying to each other on the Internet.

So basically what I want to say is...well, I mean, I'm annoyed by particular flamewars that people have about disability rights, and I have autism, so I think I tend to read the flamewars that are about autism, but I've definitely heard people say this about everything from Down Syndrome to, like, spinal muscular atrophy and, like, tons of different disabilities.

Basically a person will be talking about a disability in a way that their opponent thinks is too positive, and they'll be saying, "We shouldn't be trying to cure this disability or talking about how awful it is--we should be talking about how to help people that have it, and accepting them."

And then the other person will say, "Well, that's how you feel because your disability's not severe, but I know someone whose disability is severe, and that's why I have my point of view. And both our points of view are equally valid because they both come from our experience," or something like that.

Okay, well, I don't really think this is true. I think instead of saying, "it's, like, mild disabilities vs. severe disabilities and those each lend themselves to a different political opinion," I think that it's just the medical model of disability vs. the social model.

And, um, the medical model of disability basically means that if someone isn't successful in society, um, you figure out what's wrong with them and you try to change what's wrong with them or keep it from happening to anyone else.

And, um, the social model of disability means that if someone isn't successful, you say, "Well, what should society be doing differently so that this person can be more successful?"

Um, I think a good example of this is a lot of the time people will say, "Well, autism is so terrible because my relative has autism and they can't live independently, and my whole family is really worried about where this person's gonna live when they're older."

Well, people who are into the social model of disability would say, "This is a political issue, and the government is already supposed to be supporting people who can't live independently, but as it is a lot of people end up in institutions when they don't need to be in institutions, they don't want to be in institutions, and institutions are actually more expensive for the government." So, um, those people would say, "This is actually an issue we need to be working on, and it isn't a fact that can't be changed, that someone's family has to worry about where the person is going to live and how they're gonna be taken care of--um, that's actually something that can and should be made different."

So, um, I personally have seen people who had pretty mild disabilities, I guess, who were very upset about the disability they had, wanted it to be cured, and supported the medical model of disability; and it's also the case that many people who were instrumental in developing disability rights and the social model of disability were people with severe disabilities.

So, um, that equation just isn't true, basically. And I also happen to find it kind of offensive, because, um, the assumption seems to be that if someone supports the social model of disability they must have a really easy experience with their disability, because if they had a hard experience they would support the medical model.

And you know, I think it's pretty insulting to go around saying what someone else's experience must be like just because you disagreed with them--especially on the Internet since you don't actually know them. But, um, yeah I just wanted to say this and I wish that people would think about this before they start bringing in people's personal disability experiences, instead of just saying that they don't agree with them.


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